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Updated: Samsung goes big with Galaxy S8 phones

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AFTER the ill-fated introduction of Samsung Note 7 last year, which cost the company US$5.48 billion of profit according to Reuters, Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 in Singapore on Thursday.

AFTER the ill-fated introduction of Samsung Note 7 last year, which cost the company US$5.48 billion of profit according to Reuters, Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 in Singapore on Thursday.

The phones are notably larger, with the smaller S8 screen measuring 5.8 inches, and the S8+ screen 6.2 inches. This stands in stark contrast to their predecessors: the S7 screen is 5.1 inches wide, while the S7 Edge is 5.5 inches.

However, the phones remain thin and lightweight - they are barely thicker or heavier than the S7 devices.

Rumours were also proven true when it was revealed that both the S8 and S8+ featured curved screens and that the physical home button had been done away with. This made way for narrow bezels and screens that can play videos in the wider 18.5:9 aspect ratio as compared with the standard high-definition 16:9.

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In place of the home button is a virtual, pressure-sensitive "button" at the bottom of the screen, which appears when tapped on even when applications or videos fill the screen.

The navigation buttons that flank the home icon are also customisable, which a Samsung spokesman said caters to left-handers.

The Galaxy S8 phones are not all about aesthetics, however. Both phones boast 10nm processors, which Samsung states is an industry first, along with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. Users also have the option of expanding memory space; similar to the S7 range, the S8 phones come with dual SIM capacity, with the spare SIM card slot doubling up as a micro SD card slot that can hold up to 256GB.

Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri also makes its debut in the form of Bixby, Samsung's personal assistant, which offers personalised help based on users' interests and locations. It also allows users to navigate the phone with voice, touch and text commands.

Reportedly, Bixby also comes with an image recognition technology, which can identify items taken with the camera and suggest similar looking images. However, this was not demonstrated at the Singapore launch.

Instead, greater emphasis is placed on the facial recognition and iris scanner, which users can use to unlock their Galaxy S8 phones. This comes on top of the fingerprint sensor which has been moved to the back of the phone, since the phone's home button (where the fingerprint sensor used to sit) has been removed.

Both the S8 phones are water and dust resistant. Plus, they come with Bluetooth 5.0, which offers a wider range and the ability to connect two Bluetooth devices at the same time.

The phones also retain some of their old features: the always-on display, fast and wireless charging capabilities, and, thankfully, the headphone jack.

Surprisingly, there are no rear camera or battery upgrades from the S7 phones. The rear camera remains at 12 megapixels, although the front camera made the jump to 8 megapixels (compared with the S7's 5 megapixels) with a new autofocus feature.

The launch of the Galaxy S8 phones comes at a turbulent time for Samsung. Last year, they held a worldwide recall of the Samsung Note7 handsets after reports of units catching fire. The company attributed the cause to battery issues.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ phones will be available on April 29, 2017 at $1,148 for the S8 and $1,298 for the S8+. Pre-orders will commence from April 7, 2017.

Note: This story was updated on April 5, 2017 to reflect the prices and date of availabilities for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+.

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